Tuesday, December 10, 2002


Members of Grant Hirohata-Goto's family -- from left, father Norman Hirohata-Goto, brother Greg Hirohata-Goto and mother Amy Hirohata-Goto -- reflected yesterday on life and the sudden death of their son and brother. Grant died Sunday shortly after completing the 2002 Honolulu Marathon.

Marathon runner is
recalled as a loving
and dedicated man

See also: Obituaries

By Rod Antone

Melissa Hirohata-Goto said she can talk calmly about how her husband Grant died after running the Honolulu Marathon because she wants people to know how much she loved him.

"He was such a nice guy, he would never say anything bad about anyone and he had such a great sense of humor," she said last night, a day after losing her husband of nearly 18 months.

"We were laughing the night before the race because in the back of his running number under medical problems he wrote, 'If you are reading this, then maybe running is my problem.' I didn't know he did that until he had already filled it out."

After finishing the marathon in four hours, 51 minutes and 27 seconds, Grant Hirohata-Goto, 33, collapsed near the finish line shortly after 10 a.m. He was taken to the Queen's Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

"We don't quite understand what happened," said his father Norman, who along with Grant's younger brother Greg also ran the marathon. "Maybe the last few miles he went overboard.

"Grant was my quiet son ... but when he does things he goes all out."

Grant Hirohata-Goto was all smiles after he completed the 2001 Honolulu Marathon.

Norman said all three of them started the race together but quickly were separated among tens of thousands of runners.

"I remember watching the fireworks together in the beginning," said Greg. "He broke away from the start."

Melissa said that while Grant's doctors have not determined a cause of death yet they believe that he suffered cardiac arrest. The family has a history of high-blood pressure which is one of the reasons why Grant, his father and his brother started running.

"As far as the medical staff at the race goes, we just want to thank them because we know they did everything in their power for my brother ... it's just one of those accidents," Greg said

The family hopes that Grant's death will not deter anyone from taking up running, though they recommend that people seek medical advice before running a race.

"I think that's one thing Grant didn't do," Greg said. "We just want people to be cautious."

Grant ran cross-country track at Iolani School, where he graduated in 1987. He started running again when he turned 30 and this was his third marathon.

Grant Hirohata-Goto and his wife, Melissa, paused for a photo after running in the 2001 Marathon.

Grant's wife has run the Honolulu Marathon five times but did not this year because the couple were trying to have a baby and they thought that training for the race might affect their chances.

Next year though, Melissa said she plans to hit the pavement again, this time for her husband.

"I'd like to do the marathon for him," she said. "This could have happened regardless of whether he ran the marathon or not. Maybe earlier if he hadn't started running."

Grant's father said that his son's death reminds him of an old Buddhist saying about how quickly a life can pass and he hopes other families treasure the time they have together.

"It goes, 'we may have radiant faces in the morning, but by evening we may turn into white ashes,'" he said. "All these years we heard about this sort of thing but we never thought it would happen to us."

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